Department of Religion

Course Descriptions

The Religion Department at California Lutheran University seeks to introduce students to the academic study of religion through a focus on the Christian tradition and the study of religions of the world. Our curriculum challenges students to explore and articulate their beliefs and world-views in conversation with one another by asking them to consider how individuals and communities throughout history and around the world have wrestled with ultimate questions of faith, belief, and origins, as well as with daily questions of ethics, community life and relations with the natural world. Additional goals of our curriculum are, first, to foster respect and appreciation among students for the variety of expressions of Christianity and the diversity of religions that constitute the world today and, second, to shape an informed understanding of the role of religion in the social, cultural and political dimensions of human life.


REL 100 - Introduction to Christianity
4 credits

This study of Christianity explores the formation and structure of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and New Testament and the development of Christianity from the first century to the present, including its theological and ethical traditions.

REL 300 - Exploring Biblical Traditions
4 credits

This course will trace the development of religious consciousness in human experience, examine the foundations of Judaism and Christianity in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, explore the rise and expansion of Christianity in its unity and diversity, and explain its core beliefs and practices.

REL 310 - Exploring the Old Testament
4 credits

This introduction to the literature and setting of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible emphasizes selected writings and themes. Attention is given to the historical and cultural context and the challenge of interpreting these writings in the 21st century.

REL 311 - Old Testament: Torah
4 credits

An examination of the first five books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, focusing on selected passages and themes, the historical and cultural context of their composition and the challenge of interpreting them in the 20th century.

REL 312 - Old Testament: Prophets
4 credits

An examination of the prophetic books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, focusing on selected passages and themes, the historical and cultural context of their composition and the challenge of interpreting them in the 20th century.

REL 313 - Old Testament: Writings
4 credits

An examination of Wisdom Literature, Psalms and other writings in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, focusing on selected passages and themes, the historical and cultural context of their composition and the challenge of interpreting them in the 20th century.

REL 315 - Biblical Hebrew 1/2
4 credits

A two-semester sequence of study leading to a reading knowledge of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Basic Hebrew grammar and vocabulary are studied in conjunction with questions of cosmology, the understanding of history and the theological perspective of ancient Israel.

REL 316 - Biblical Hebrew 1/2
4 credits

A two-semester sequence of study leading to a reading knowledge of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Basic Hebrew grammar and vocabulary are studied in conjunction with questions of cosmology, the understanding of history and the theological perspective of ancient Israel.

REL 320 - Exploring the New Testament
4 credits

A survey of the New Testament writings in their first century Mediterranean cultural setting that explores how early Christian communities adapted Jewish Tradition and society, as well as the ideas, culture, and beliefs of ancient Greece and Rome.

REL 321 - Matthew, Mark, and Luke
4 credits

A study of the Synoptic Gospels designed to help students grasp the literary relationships and theological differences these writings present, and to gain an appreciation of the richness and variety of the religious, cultural, and political world in which they emerged.

REL 322 - Gospel of John
4 credits

A study of the Fourth Gospel, particularly the symbols John uses to describe Jesus (shepherd, living water, bread of life, vine) and his followers (sheep, thirsty, hungry, the branches). How do these symbols affect people's behavior in Jesus' time and today and do these symbols have political power?

REL 323 - Paul and His Letters
4 credits

An introduction to the study of Paul's letters and theology in relation to his social world, using historical and literary approaches.

REL 324 - Jesus
4 credits

Who is Jesus? This course begins with the four gospels and asks how each writer understands Jesus in the first century Jewish and Roman worlds. Students then study art and literature from around the world to ask how Jesus is understood in different cultural and political perspectives today.

REL 325 - Biblical Greek 1/2
4 credits

A beginning study of biblical Greek that builds a foundation in the essentials of grammar, vocabulary, and translation. Includes readings in Mark and Philippians, as well as (in the second semester) discussion of theological implications. (Cross-listed with Greek 325/326)

REL 326 - Biblical Greek 1/2
4 credits

A beginning study of biblical Greek that builds a foundation in the essentials of grammar, vocabulary, and translation. Includes readings in Mark and Philippians, as well as (in the second semester) discussion of theological implications. (Cross-listed with Greek 325/326)

REL 327 - Revelation and Apocalypse
4 credits

An introduction to the book of Revelation in the New Testament, and other apocalyptic themes in literature from the Prophets to the present times. This course explores the social and political dimensions of apocalyptic literature in particular situations around the globe.

REL 331 - History of Christianity I: Ancient and Medieval
4 credits

A survey of the emergence, growth and development of the Christian church from the time of the apostles to the great schism of the 14th century, including such topics as the development of worship, theology and structure, the conflicts between Greek and Latin Christians, the role of church as a bearer of culture, the rise of the papacy, and the impact of Christianity on the social and political development of Europe. (cross-listed with History 331)

REL 332 - History of Christianity II: Reform and Rerformation
4 credits

A survey of Christian history in the West from the 14th to the 17th century, focusing particularly on reform movement in late-medieval Christianity, the rise of biblical humanism, the Protestant and Catholic reformations of the 16 century, the increasingly tense relationship between religion and science in the early modern period, and the role of religion in fostering national identity and political change. (cross-listed with History 332)

REL 333 - History of Christianity III: Modern Challenges
4 credits

A survey of the continuing impact of Christianity in the modern West, with particular attention to the challenges presented by the Enlightenment, the age of revolutions, and the scientific and economic developments of the 19th century. Primary emphasis will be placed on the European experience of Christianity, but some attention will also be given to European missionary efforts and global Christianity in the modern era. (cross-listed with History 333)

REL 334 - Christianity in America
4 credits

An exploration of the development of religion in America, including major personalities; the origins of denominations, cults and sects; revivalism; utopianism; slavery; black religion; the liberal-fundamentalist controversy; and some contemporary religious movements.

REL 335 - Martin Luther
4 credits

A seminar course introducing the life and thought of Martin Luther (1483-1546), based on lectures, films, and close reading and discussion of his works. The course aims to provide students with a working knowledge of Luther’s main teachings and their impact, and to put both his ideas and his legacy in historical context.

REL 340 - Exploring Christian Theology
4 credits

A survey of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, including their biblical roots, classical formulations, challenges posed by the modern world and some contemporary reformulations.

REL 341 - Varieties of Christian Theology
4 credits

A study of some contemporary currents in Christian theology, such as evangelical theology, the various liberation theologies (feminist, black, Latino, Latin American), and the recent scientific theologies.

REL 344 - God in Christian Thought
4 credits

An examination of traditional and contemporary Christian understandings of God, including the person and attributes of God, God’s creative work, the divine-human relationship, sin, and the traditional problem of evil.

REL 345 - Christ and Salvation
4 credits

A study of traditional and contemporary understandings of the historical person of Jesus, his identity as the Messiah/Christ, and his role in God’s saving work.

REL 346 - Science and Christian Theology
4 credits

An examination of the historical and contemporary relationships that have existed between modern science and Christian theology through study of particular areas of convergence, examples of conflict and integration, and the scientific, philosophical and theological issues involved.

REL 347 - Liberation and Theology
4 credits

An introduction to theologies of liberation in Latin America and in Ventura County, this course asks how social, economic, and political readings of the Bible can be used both to dominate and to liberate communities.

REL 350 - Exploring Christian Ethics
4 credits

An introduction to contemporary Christian ethics; its relationship to the Bible and Christian communities; and thinking on such important personal and social issues as sexual behavior, human reproduction, racial and ethnic relations, the taking of human life, poverty and economic issues, and the environment.

REL 351 - Global Ethics
4 credits

A variety of issues have arisen which need to be examined from a global perspective: economic globalization, immigration, human rights, the environment, social change, terrorism and war. This course examines these issues from the perspective of global religions, ethics, social theory, and social movements.

REL 352 - Environmental Ethics
4 credits

The care of the Earth demands that complex issues such as population, technology, freedom, aesthetics, politics, justice and the rights and limitations of nations and businesses be addressed. Students attempt to develop a theological ethic of the environment.

REL 353 - Violence, Religion and Ethics
4 credits

A study of various forms of violence, such as sexual and domestic violence, political repression, terrorism and war. The course examines religious justification of and resistance to violence using cases from diverse locations and religions.

REL 356 - Sexual Ethics
4 credits

A study of sexual ethics from religious and philosophical perspectives, moving from an examination of understandings of gender, sexuality, and sexual identities to discussion of issues such as marriage and family; contraception, abortion and reproductive technologies; sexual violence, and HIV/AIDS.

REL 357 - Malcolm X & M.L. King
4 credits

A study of the religious ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr and El Hajj Malik Al Shabazz (Malcolm X) through their own speeches and writings and the works of various interpreters. We examine relevant aspects of African-American history and culture, including the role of women in the civil rights movement.

REL 360 - Jews and Judaism
4 credits

A study of the elements of traditional Judaism in biblical, rabbinic and modern times.

REL 370 - Global Religions
4 credits

A consideration of themes, issues, types of figures and phenomena from the religions of the world, all selected to illustrate the great varieties of religious phenomena and to suggest some of the ways such topics may be responsibly studied.

REL 371 - Western Religions
4 credits

Drawing on the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, students will examine the varieties of the religious experience, historically and comparatively represented by adherents of these three religious communities.

REL 372 - Asian Religions
4 credits

Drawing on the religious traditions of Asia, students will consider the varieties of the religious experience, historically and comparatively represented by the adherents of these religious communities.

REL 373 - Religious Traditions of East Asia
4 credits

This study focuses particularly on the religious cultures of China and Japan.

REL 374 - Women and Religion
4 credits

A consideration of women and women's issues within the context of the study of world religious traditions.

REL 380 - Jesus in Film and History
4 credits

A study of the historical person of Jesus through readings in the gospels, historical Jesus research from the past two centuries, and the various cinematic portraits of Jesus from the silent picture era to the present.

REL 381 - Religion, Identity and Culture
4 credits

This course explores the interaction of religion and culture in the United States. We will examine uses of religious symbols and narratives in the formation of personal, gender, ethnic and cultural identities, through analysis of memoirs and novels.

REL 390 - Exploring Church Ministries
4 credits

This course is designed for students interested in exploring the possibility of lay or ordained ministry in the church on either a professional or voluntary basis. Its primary focus in on the theory and practice of Youth and Family ministry and the theology and art of oral communication in religious settings.

REL 392 - Liturgy and Worship
4 credits

An introduction to the Christian liturgical tradition, particularly that of Western Christianity. It will include some comparison with non-Christian religious customs, and will give importance to the development of worship in the Protestant traditions. The course's approach is historical, but it may also include some practical training if appropriate to student needs. Christian hymnody and liturgical music will also be introduced, with an emphasis on the distinctive Lutheran contributions in those areas. (Cross-listed with Music 392)

REL 435 - Faith and Reason ( Capstone )
4 credits

Team-taught by professors in philosophy and religion, the course is an interdisciplinary exploration of the perennial tensions and cross-fertilizations between faith and reason, including examination of arguments for and against God's existence, the problem of evil, the nature of religious language, and the relationship between science and religion. It serves as the capstone for philosophy and religion majors and a senior seminar in the honors program. It is also open to juniors and seniors from all disciplines.

REL 482 - Selected Topics
1 credit

REL 485 - Seminar
2-4 credits

REL 490 - Independent Study
1 credit

REL 492 - Internship
1 credit

(graded P/NC only)

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